How to Make a Custom Picture Frame
Posted on 23, April, 2015
Last Modified on 23, June, 2015
Shop Products from This Guide
Have you ever had an amazing photo that you wanted to frame right away but it was an irregular size? You end up looking through store after store but can't find a frame to fit your picture. If you get lucky and find one, you might not like the colors or designs offered. Your next option is to have a professional company frame the picture but this can be very costly, even with discounted frames. Many people get scared because it can be labor intensive to build your own frames. It isn't rocket science but it does take patience and accuracy. This guide will make it simple as possible by providing a step-by-step process for making a great looking custom frame for your office or home.
We will start with the materials and tools that you will need to create your perfect picture frame. Most of these products can be purchased from your local hardware and craft stores.
- 1 Amazing Photograph
- 1 Piece of Chip Board
- 1 Piece of Matt Board (Optional)
- Acid Free Glue
- Glazier Points
- 4 Joint Fasteners
- 4 Pieces of Molding
- 1 Piece of Plexiglass, Lexan or Light Glass
- Acid Free Paper
- Wood Glue
- Wood Filler
- Clean Workspace
- Straight Edge
- Router or Table Saw
- Miter Saw or Miter Box and Hand Saw
- Corner Clamp
- Tape Measure
- Sand Paper / Sander
Step 1: Measurements
The most important thing to remember when building a photo frame is that you must be as accurate as possible. If you are unsure about a measurement, it’s always wise to cut a little larger than you think for forgiveness. Keep in mind how wide you want your frame to be before you start. One more important thing to remember is that you want the picture frame to be slightly smaller than the photo you are framing so that there is no dead space around the photo.
Using a ruler, yard stick, or measuring tape measure the dimensions of the photo. Start each measurement on the 1" mark of the ruler to have the most accurate result. Then cut your matting board the size that the frame will be from the outside dimensions.
If you are going to include a mat, measure how wide you would want the mat to be from the outside of the photo. See our "How to Easily Create A Photo Mat" article if you are interested in adding one with the frame.
Step 2: Acid Free Paper & Mounting Corners
You can skip this step if you have an acid-free mounting board. Cut the acid free paper the exact same size as the mounting board that you already cut. This paper will protect your photo from the acids found in the mounting board. Put this piece to the side for now. We are then going to use the scrap paper for the mounting corners or corners of your image. To make the mounting corners, cut 4 strips of paper 1" x 4". Fold the right side of the strip so that the top edge lies alongside the center crease. Then do the same with the left side- following the 1-3 image directions. Now 1 mounting corner is done. Do the same with 3 more pieces of 1" x 4" paper.
Next apply the first piece you cut of large acid free paper with glue around the edges. Let Dry. Glue in the corners you folded to mounting board. Insert Image.
Step 4: Cutting Your Molding
This is where a miter saw or miter box with a hand saw is essential. You need one of these tools to create the perfect angled cut for your frame corners. Now with the measurements of the photo, grab your piece of wood and measure the board to the same size. Make sure to cover the photo’s corners completely. Next, make a 45 degree line from the inside measurement of your frame which leads to the outside of your frame. After doing that you will make the exact same measurement on the same board. One great way to do that is to trace the board you just cut on top of the next board before cutting the new piece.
Then work on the other two sides by following the same steps.
When all the pieces are cut, place all 4 parts of the frame together on top of the photo to make sure that they have for a perfect 90 degrees, and fit your photo precisely. Next, using wood glue, place each corner of the frame together and use corner clamps to hold your wood in place. Then add your joint fasteners to ensure a good hold for life.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
When cutting the frame’s corners using a mitering saw, the two pieces might not fit perfectly together and that is alright. Wood filler will make the small gaps disappear. Apply wood filler, wait for it to dry, sand and repeat a few times until the filler is perfectly smooth with the wood.
Now you are able to paint or stain your wooden frame any color you like. You should wait until the wood filler is completely dry. Paint or stain your first coat, let dry then sand lightly. Repaint or stain the frame again for a clean finish.
Place the appropriate sized plexiglass acrylic sheet or glass in the frame then the picture, mat board and lastly mount the picture board. Install the glazing points to keep the photo from falling out. Use a large screwdriver to push the glazing point into the wood.
Now you have a brand new handmade frame, for much less of a price and exactly on par with your desired style and color. You will learn that the more frames you make, the easier it will be to create another. One simple way to make multiple picture frames quickly is to make them all the same size. By doing this you are able to trace over framing that is already measured out. If you don't want the frames to look the same you can paint the frames different colors or choose different moldings to give a different character or feel.
Check out 20 DIY Photo Frames for some more interesting ideas.